Next step: sue the sun - Macleans.ca

Next step: sue the sun

How to pick away at a provincial deficit

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The Ontario government has just launched a $50 billion suit against tobacco companies. The reason? To cover damages “for past and ongoing health-care costs linked to tobacco-related illness.”

Alright, let’s get a few things out of the way. One—they’ll get their money. It’s all very legal and in accordance with the Tobacco Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act. Two—they’ve got friends. British Columbia and New Brunswick have their own suits underway. When one wins, the others will have it in the bag. And three—just so you know, it’s all for you:

Smoking“The taxpayers of the province of Ontario have paid a lot of money for health-care costs directly related to tobacco use over the decades,” said Attorney General Chris Bentley. “We believe the taxpayers should be compensated for the costs that they have paid. That’s what this lawsuit is about.”

How nice. Here I was thinking it was all a frivolous cash grab or an example of shameless double dipping by a government that rakes in billions annually through provincial tax excisions. I guess existing taxation on the sale of cigarettes, which totals almost 70% of the retail cost (when you add up federal and provincial taxes) was just preparatory collection to make sure Ontario has enough to pay its lawyers.

Now, I am not a smoker, government diplomat or a lawyer (I know—so far so good, eh?) but I do have a few humble suggestions for our McGuinty Liberals:

  • Put the $50 billion in eHealth. They’ll know what to do with it.
  • Sue to sun for skin cancer, Cookie Monster for promoting unhealthy eating habits leading to obesity, Steve Jobs for carpal tunnel syndrome and GM for pollution-related respiratory illnesses. (Uh.. on second thought… maybe wait a bit on the last one.)
  • Watch out for class action suits. Someone might label you a conspirator.
  • Keep it going. Everyone’s temporarily forgotten about HST.
  • Can you somehow find a way to sue individuals for autoimmune diseases?

What a ridiculous distraction.

– photo by Stephan Geyer

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